Former prison guard loses job after erroneous arrest for car theft

By Jim Boyle | May 8, 2014

A former prison guard employed by the Rhode Island Department of Corrections lost his

job after a car rental company erroneously reported that he had stolen one of their vehicles, resulting in his arrest by the Philadelphia Police Department.

Stephen Rollins, an active reserve Marine who lives in Philadephia, has filed a slander suit against Budget Rent-a-Car in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. According to the complaint, Rollins rented a grey sedan from the rental company on May 9, 2013, at the Philadelphia Airport.

Over the course of Rollins' use of the vehicle, he called Budget Rent-a-Car to extend the length of the contract, making payments over the phone with his credit card. Since the vehicle had not been returned, however, an employee reported the car stolen to the Philadelphia Police Department. Shortly thereafter, officers arrested Rollins June 19, 2013, and charged him with automobile theft.

Eventually, representatives from Budget Rent-a-Car realized the mistake and dropped all charges against Rollins, but by then his employment with the Rhode Island Department of Corrections had been terminated and the Marine Corps began its own investigation.

Rollins claims he suffered great humiliation from the incident and loss of reputation among his former employers and circle of friends. He holds Budget Rent-a-Car liable for three counts, including false imprisonment, slander and negligence.

His attorney, Lawrence Metzger, is seeking damages in excess of $50,000.

The case file ID number is 140500364.

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